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Congressional Disapproval Of Rule Relating To Grandfathered Health Plan--Motion To Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with the Senator from Wyoming.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. McCAIN. I would say to my friend from Wyoming, this seems like old times--what we tried to stop for over a year, and now our predictions came true, beginning with they turned 2 pages of this 2,733-page bill--2 pages--into 121 pages of regulation. Is that correct, I would ask my colleague from Wyoming?

Mr. ENZI. In one of the instances, that is correct.

Mr. McCAIN. So in a 2,733-page bill, if we have 121 pages of regulation for every 2 pages, that is going to be pretty interesting, isn't it? And the fun has just begun. The fun has just begun.

If the Senator might recall, I ask my friend from Wyoming, President Obama--quote after quote, time after time:

And if you do have health insurance, we'll make sure that your insurance is more affordable and more secure.

We know that is not true from every estimate. It is neither affordable nor secure.

If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. This is not some government takeover. ..... I don't want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care. ..... That's what reform is about.

I quote from the President of the United States.

So now they have taken 2 pages of a 2,733-page bill, and that is 121 pages of regulation.

Now, isn't it true, I would ask my colleague from Wyoming, who knows as much or more about this than anyone, that it will result in 50 percent of all employees being in plans ineligible for grandfathered status? Is that a correct statement?

Mr. ENZI. That is not only a correct statement, the estimate is a little low, according to the administration.

Mr. McCAIN. According to the administration.

Mr. ENZI. According to the administration, in small businesses, 80 percent of the people--unless this is passed--will lose the insurance they have and like, and in all businesses 69 percent will. Those are not my numbers; those are the administration's numbers.

Mr. McCAIN. But isn't it also true that is the case for small business and people and entrepreneurs all over America except the unions? Isn't that true? Isn't this a carve-out again, part of this sleaze that went into putting this bill together, part of the ``Cornhusker kickback,'' the ``Louisiana purchase,'' the buying of PhRMA--all that went into this--the ``negotiations'' that were going to take place on C-SPAN that the President said during the Presidential campaign that went from one sweetheart deal cut to another. Part of one of those sweetheart deals was the unions are exempt; is that correct?

Mr. ENZI. That is correct. And so were the other parts that were done in order to buy the bill in a bipartisan way.

Mr. McCAIN. So what you are saying is that unless a health care policy provided by an employer is absolutely unchanged totally for an unspecified period of time, then that health insurance policy can be declared invalid by the Department of Health and Human Services, and they will have to go to a government-mandated health insurance policy or pay a fine. Is that a correct assessment?

Mr. ENZI. It is a correct assessment in most of the parts. They will have to give up the insurance they have now, even if they like it, which the President did mention 47 times in public speeches. And there are some requirements on how much of a change there can be.

But I have been talking to small businessmen traveling across Wyoming, talking to them and visiting them, because Congress thinks ``profit'' is a bad word, and a lot in Congress think every business is simple to run. But they have never been out there and scratched the surface a little bit to see just how tough it is.

I have had businessman after businessman whom I have visited and ones who have come to Washington because they have been so concerned who have said: I am going to do everything I can to keep my plan just exactly the same because this regulation is so difficult to understand, and I am pretty busy anyway, so I don't think I dare make any changes.

That is not true. They could make a few changes, but if they do, they will lose their status, and they will have to pay more.

Mr. McCAIN. So an employer, a small businessperson provides health insurance for their employees. That employer sees health care costs go up,--as everybody knows, and that is every objective estimate--so that employer says to its 10, 50, 60, whatever, employees: Look, we are going to have to increase your copay. We are going to have to increase your copay because, simply, the costs are prohibitive, and we would like to sit down, and I think you would probably agree to it given the overall situation across health care. And the employees agree with that and they change the copay, and then automatically they are finished. Is that correct?

Mr. ENZI. Yes, that is correct. That is correct. If they change the copay, they are no longer grandfathered.

Mr. McCAIN. So even though it is obvious that the cost of health care is going up, continues up dramatically--that is estimates of OMB, of literally every objective observer; the curve has not been bent down--that unless employers keep exactly, with very little wiggle room, basically the same health insurance policy for their employees, then they will then have to comply with a government-mandated health insurance policy. Is that correct?

Mr. ENZI. That is correct. The Federal bureaucrats have figured out what the minimum amount of insurance is that you ought to have and everybody else in America ought to have, and even if you like what you have, you are going to have to go to that if there are certain changes in your policy.

The small businessmen are worried about any changes. Because this thing is so complicated, they do not even know what the rest of the rules are going to be. They have talked about this tax credit, but a number of them have looked at the requirements on the tax credit and said: How in the heck do I ever comply with that? So they are a little worried about being able to get that too.

Mr. McCAIN. So I guess it was one of our colleagues and the President who intimated: Well, the American people really don't pay attention. The American people don't really--they are deceived by FOX News, et cetera.

The American people knew this was a bad deal then, and they know it is a bad deal now. The majority of the American people want it repealed. And all of this is suspicions confirmed when you take 2 pages of legislation and turn it into 121 pages of regulation--a 2,733-page bill.

Mr. ENZI. Yes, it will be dramatic. We have not begun to touch all of the regulations that have to be written on this yet. We looked at the Medicare bill and how many pages of regulations came out of that, and it was 100 per page, which would be 270,000 pages on this one. That is where that number came from.

Mr. McCAIN. So here we are with an economy that the administration, the President, and his crack economic team said that if you pass this stimulus bill, maximum unemployment will be 8 percent. What is the problem with
investment and hiring and economic growth in America today? The total uncertainty. We have just punted on the extension of the tax cuts or an Obama tax increase. We have just punted on a number of issues, and the American people now are going to have to--this small businessperson the NFIB represents is going to have to thumb through 121 pages of new regulations in order to understand. Big businesses and small businesses are going to say: What are the next 121 pages of regulations that are coming down for 2 pages of the bill? I guess the title page probably would not have regulations associated with it, but the other 2,732 would.

Mr. ENZI. And the Senator from Arizona has not even mentioned the 1099 problem that is supposed to help pay for part of this bill.

Mr. McCAIN. Yes, which our colleagues just voted down. They voted down a resolution by the Senator from Nebraska that would allow them not to have to report every single transaction of $600 or more. No wonder small and large businesses in America are reluctant to invest and hire with this kind of foolishness going on.

Mr. ENZI. Right.

Mr. McCAIN. The CPAs come to me in Arizona and say: I can't advise my clients. I don't know what the tax structure will be.

So here we are with a new 121 pages of regulation which obviously will affect 50, 60, 80 percent--let's say it only affects 50 percent of businesses in America--and we are going to vote down, probably, with the big-government majority here, this effort to not have this regulation implemented.

All I can say to my colleague from Wyoming is, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your thoughtful dissertation on this issue. And I guarantee you, maybe next January, we can take this up again.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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